Baltimore Sun

Last 2 former officers who violated Floyd’s rights get sentenced


ST. PAUL, Minn. — A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced two former Minneapoli­s police officers who were convicted of violating George Floyd’s civil rights to lighter terms than recommende­d in sentencing guidelines.

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson sentenced J. Alexander Kueng to three years in prison and Tou Thao to 3½ years in the May 25, 2020, killing of Floyd in which then-Officer Derek Chauvin pinned Floyd’s neck with his knee for more than nine minutes as the 46-year-old Black man said he couldn’t breathe and eventually grew still.

The killing, captured in bystander video, sparked protests worldwide and a reckoning of racial injustice.

Kueng pinned Floyd’s back, Thao held back concerned bystanders, and a fourth officer, Thomas Lane, held Floyd’s feet. Lane was sentenced last week to two years — also below guidelines and a sentence that Floyd’s brother Philonise called “insulting” — while Chauvin was sentenced earlier to 21 years.

Floyd’s immediate family members did not attend Wednesday’s hearings or comment immediatel­y afterward.

The lower sentences for Kueng, who is Black, and Thao, who is Hmong American, raise questions about whether they would consider a plea deal or risk a state court trial on Oct. 24, when they face counts of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaught­er.

Lane, who is white, pleaded guilty to a state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaught­er and is awaiting sentencing in that case.

Sentencing guidelines on the federal counts called for 4 ¼ to 5 ¼ years for Kueng and 5 ¼ to 6 ½ years for Thao.

For both men, prosecutor­s argued for sentences within that range or longer, arguing in Kueng’s case that he “didn’t say a word” as Floyd lay dying. They also disputed that Thao’s role was minor, with prosecutor LeeAnn Bell saying he had “a bird’s-eye view of what was going on” with Floyd pinned to the pavement, and had “years on the force” that meant he should have known better.

Both men are due to report to federal prison on Oct. 4, though Magnuson noted that could change because of their state trial.

Federal budget: The Congressio­nal Budget Office said Wednesday that the end of pandemic-era spending, fast economic growth and higher tax revenues caused the federal debt this year to be lower than forecast.

But the non-partisan office includes a warning in its 30-year outlook about how debt will soon spiral upward to new highs that could ultimately imperil the U.S. economy.

Accumulate­d debt held by the public will be equal to 98% of U.S. gross domestic product this year, four points lower than the 2021 forecast. But this would be a brief respite from rising levels of debt that would surpass the historical high in 2031 and climb by 2052 to 185% of GDP.

President Joe Biden has made reducing the annual budget deficit a priority, but that would likely require tax increases that Republican lawmakers and some Democrats oppose.

A Wyoming judge on Wednesday temporaril­y blocked

Wyo. abortion ban:

the state’s abortion ban on the day it took effect, siding with a firebombed women’s health clinic and others who argued the ban would violate the state constituti­on and harm health care workers and their patients.

Attorneys arguing before Teton County District Judge Melissa Owens, in Jackson, disagreed over whether the Wyoming Constituti­on provided a right to abortion that would nullify the state’s abortion “trigger” law that took effect Wednesday.

Owens proved sympatheti­c, though, with arguments that the ban left pregnant patients with dangerous complicati­ons and their doctors in a difficult position as they balanced serious medical risks against the possibilit­y of prosecutio­n.

“That is a possible irreparabl­e injury to the plaintiffs. They are left with no guidance,” Owens said.

Several states including Wyoming recently passed abortion “trigger” bans should the U.S. Supreme

Court overturn Roe v. Wade, which happened June 24. The U.S. Supreme Court formally issued its judgment Tuesday — a step that allowed some states, though not Wyoming, to enact their “trigger” bans.

Northwest heatwave: The scorching heat in the Pacific Northwest is now expected to last longer than forecaster­s had initially predicted, setting parts of the normally temperate region on course to break heat wave duration records.

As temperatur­es hit a daily record 102 degrees in Portland, Oregon, on Tuesday, the National Weather Service extended the excessive heat warning for the city from Thursday through Saturday evening.

The duration of the heat wave puts Portland “in the running” for tying its longest streak of six consecutiv­e days of 95 degrees or higher, said Colby Neuman, a meteorolog­ist for the National Weather Service in Portland.

Seattle on Tuesday reported

a new record daily high of 94. The heat spell was forecast to last into Saturday in western Washington as well.

Airline consolidat­ion:

Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines on Wednesday abandoned their merger proposal, opening the way for JetBlue Airways to acquire Spirit after a monthslong bidding war for the budget carrier.

The decision by Spirit and Frontier to terminate their deal was announced while Spirit shareholde­rs were still voting on the proposal. Despite the support of Spirit’s board, shareholde­rs apparently were prepared to reject the deal.

The Frontier offer was worth more than $2.6 billion in cash and stock compared with JetBlue’s all-cash bid of $3.7 billion.

A combinatio­n of Spirit with Frontier or JetBlue would create the nation’s fifth-largest airline, behind American, United, Delta and Southwest.

Philippine­s earthquake: A strong earthquake set off landslides and damaged buildings in the northern Philippine­s on Wednesday, killing at least five people and injuring dozens.

The 7-magnitude quake was centered in a mountainou­s area of Abra province, said Renato Solidum, the head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanolog­y and Seismology, who described the midmorning shaking as a major earthquake.

One villager died when hit by falling cement slabs in his house in Abra, where dozens were injured.

In Benguet province, a worker was pinned to death after a small building under constructi­on collapsed in the mountain town of La Trinidad.

The quake’s strength was lowered from the initial 7.3 magnitude after further analysis. The quake was set off by movement in a local fault at a depth of 10 miles, the institute said, adding it expected damage and more aftershock­s.

 ?? PATRICK SEMANSKY/AP ?? A U.S. Marine Corps bugler sounds taps at a ceremony for the newly rededicate­d Wall of Remembranc­e at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on Wednesday in Washington. The wall now features the names of over 43,000 U.S. service members and Korean augmentees to the U.S. Army who were killed in the war, according to the Defense Department.
PATRICK SEMANSKY/AP A U.S. Marine Corps bugler sounds taps at a ceremony for the newly rededicate­d Wall of Remembranc­e at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on Wednesday in Washington. The wall now features the names of over 43,000 U.S. service members and Korean augmentees to the U.S. Army who were killed in the war, according to the Defense Department.

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